The following Biographies have been extracted
from the following sources:
and Biographical History of DeWitt & Piatt
CHICAGO: Chapman Bros. 1891
PLEASE NOTE: If you are interested in one
of these names,
please contact me and I will try to put it on
here ahead of the others that are not done yet.
Sharon Wick, Piatt County Host
WACK, W. G.
WAGONER, John D.
WALKER, Edward W.
WARNER, Jesse W.
WEAVER, Little Berry
WEDDLE, John H. ** *
WERNER, James A.
WHITE, John M. *
WILLIAMS, Andrew J.
WING, Lucius B.
WOOD, John W., Maj.
WOOLINGTON, John S.
of PIATT COUNTY BIOGRAPHIES
W. G. Wack,
a prosperous grocery dealer in the town of Mansfield, Piatt County,
is a man who commands the respect of the people about him by his
manly character, strict integrity and general intelligence. He
was born in Somerset County, N. J., Aug. 14, 1834, and reared on a
farm in Fulton County, this State, to which he was brought in his
childhood. He remembers when wild game was plentiful near his
home, and he even recollects the tiresome journey from the East,
that was made in a wagon and consumed a period of thirty-two days.
During the boyhood years of Mr. Wack log schoolhouses were the
temples of learning in Fulton County, and in such a one he pursued
his studies, gradually completing the common-school course. He
began his personal career in 1854, farming his father's place, from
which he came to Piatt County in the spring of 1868. Here he
bought two hundred and seventy-seven acres of raw prairie on section
2, Blue Ridge Township, and by degrees brought it under thorough
cultivation and supplied it with first-class improvements. The
township was sparsely settled when he came here and Mansfield was
not laid out until two years after his arrival. In 1887 he
gave up farming and removed to the village, where four years later
he embarked in the business which he is still carrying on and in
which he is doing well financially.
August 14, 1862, Mr. Wack was united in marriage to
Miss E. A. Sherwood, who was born in Wayne County, N. Y., in 1829.
She is a daughter of Walter H. and Margaret (Sly) Sherwood, natives
of New York and Pennsylvania respectively. The former died
when sixty years of age and the latter lived to be eighty-four,
passing away in 1887. They were worthy members of the Baptist
Church and carefully reared their daughter, whose noble womanhood
gives her the respect of the community and the love of those who
best understand her worth. Stephen Sherwood, grandfather of
Mrs. Wack, emigrated from England to America and located in Seneca
County, N. Y. He was once treed by wolves and had to remain
all night among the branches. His wife, Rebecca Workman, was a
niece of President John Adams.
The Wack family in America is descended from Casper
Wack, who came to this country from Germany accompanied by a
brother, both being ministers of the Gospel. Each married and
reared a large family, one of sons and one of daughters. One
of the sons was Jacob, who was born in Pennsylvania an went from
that State to New Jersey, where he was engaged in farming until his
death. To him was born a son, Casper, whose natal year was
1812. That gentleman married Mary J. Linaberry, a native of
New Jersey, who was of German descent. In 1839 the good couple
came to Fulton County, this State, where the husband bought and
improved a farm. There the wife died in 1858, cheered by the
faith of the Baptist Church, with which her husband was also
identified. In the spring of 1868 Casper Wack sold his Fulton
County property and came to Piatt. He died here in 1881.
To him and his wife thirteen children were born, five of them now
surviving and one the subject of this biography.
Mr. Wack of this notice has been a Mason since 1867.
He has held various township offices, among them those of Supervisor
and Clerk, and whether in public or private life, follows the motto,
"I would rather be right than be President." In politics he is
a Democrat and has been a delegate to county and State conventions
and helped in the local work. He is a member of the Episcopal
Church. He has given good school privileges to his children
and his wife has looked carefully after their manners and morals at
home. Mr. and Mrs. Wack mourn the death of two children -
Walter S. and Mary J. the first and second on the family roll.
The living children are William G., Isabella and Casper S.
John D. Wagoner is one of the
prosperous farmers of Piatt County, and is successfully carrying on
his agricultural interests in Cerro Gordo Township where he has a
good farm on section 24. He is a native of Clinton County,
Ind., and was there born November 4, 1845. His parents, Davis
and Esther (Wolf) Wagoner were natives of Ohio and were of German
descent. In the spring of 1865 they came from Indiana to Piatt
County, and settled in Cerro Gordo Township. Here their
remaining days were spent in comfort, and his death occurred in the
year 1876 and hers in 1883, both being then quite advanced in years.
they were the parents of four children, of whom two are living. -
John D. and Elizabeth, the latter, the wife of Leonard Ullery.
Those deceased are Leonard F. and Barbara. Both Mr. and Mrs.
Wagoner were people of true piety and were valued members of the Old
German Baptist Church.
Our subject was in the vigor of a manly, stalwart youth
when he came to this county with his family in 1865, and he has made
his home here ever since. He was reared to the life of a
farmer and has always made it his calling. He received a fair
education and has a good knowledge of both the English and German
languages. He is a farmer of practical ability, as is shown by
his well-tilled and well-improved farm to the care of which he
devotes himself assiduously.
April 5, 1868, was the date of an important event in
the life of our subject, as he has then united in marriage to
Susannah Henricks. She is also a native of Indiana, born in
Carroll County July 22, 1844. She is a daughter of Elisha and
Anne (Michel) Henricks who wee natives of Indiana. They wee
the parents of five children, of whom these four are living -
Susannah, Samuel, Isaac and Mary A., wife of Isaac Arnold. The
mother of these children died and Mr. Henricks was married a second
time and by that marriage became the father of the following nine
children: Hannah, wife of J. H. Near; John Rufus, Elisha, M.
I., Joseph; Barbara, wife of Augustus Roberts; Elizabeth C. and
Davis. Mrs. Wagoner's parents were members of the Old German
Baptist Church. Mr. and Mrs. Wagoner have had two children, M.
I. and Anne E. deceased.
In placing his one hundred and twenty acres of land
under a high state of cultivation Mr. Wagoner has contributed his
quota toward developing the agricultural interests of De Witt
Township and he is justly classed with it most useful citizens.
He is a self-made man, having to win his way to his present
comfortable circumstances by the exercise of unwearied industry.
He has been ably assisted in his work by his good wife who is at
once a fitting helpmate and a wise counselor. He and Mrs.
Wagoner are members of the old German Baptist Church and are people
of exemplary habits. He is public-spirited doing all that he
can for the good of his township.
Edward W. Walker,
ex-Treasurer of Piatt County, was born near Bemus Heights, Saratoga
County, N.Y., Jan. 8, 1856. His grandfather Joseph Walker,
lived on a farm which comprises a part of the Stillwater
battleground. He reared six daughters and one son. He
was born in Scotland and after his emigration to America spent his
years in the Empire State. Seth R. Walker, father of our
subject, was reared and educated in his native county, and after he
had become grown, engaged in farming. After his marriage he
went to St. Simon's Island, off the coast of Georgia, and was
overseer of a plantation there three years. He then returned
to his native State, settled on the old homestead, and lived there
In March of that year Seth Walker came to Illinois, and
making his home in Champaign County, engaged in the lumber business
as a member of the firm of Walker, Lapham & Co. Two years
later he abandoned the business and began the manufacture of pressed
brick, establishing that industry in Champaign County, in 1867.
In 1870 he removed to Mansfield and in April opened the railroad
station there for the Indiana, Bloomington & Western Railroad, now
the Big Four. There was no village there at the time, and as
one grew Mr. Walker was made Postmaster, an office in which he
served twelve years. He continued to act as station agent
until 1873, after which he was engaged in the sale of groceries and
agricultural implements and the buying of grain until March, 1886.
He then went to Cheyenne County, Neb., took up a homestead and also
bought six hundred and forty acres of land ten miles from Potter,
where he has continued to reside.
The father of our subject has been three times married.
The maiden name of the mother of Edward W. was Ruth Baker, and she
also was married three times. She was born in Saratoga County,
N. Y., was a daughter of Israel and Ann Baker, and died in Champaign
City, Ill., Nov. 14, 1871. Our subject has one brother, named
Irving S. Edward W., of whom we write, attended the district
schools in his native county in the Empire State and afterward
pursued his studies in Champaign, Ill. In 1868, when but
twelve years old, he began to assist his father in the brickyard and
after the removal to Mansfield was his assistant in the store until
the fall of 1877.
Young Walker then located at Blue Ridge Station and
engaged in the sale of groceries and death in grain. In
addition to this he was the first Postmaster in the village.
He continued in business there until 1881, then returned to
Mansfield, and in 1885 he was appointed Postmaster of that town,
holding the office until after the change of administration.
In 1886 he was elected County Treasurer for four years, and removed
Realizing that it was not good for man to live alone,
Mr. Walker won an estimable and attractive young lady for his wife.
This was Alice Roseberry, a daughter of Isaac J. and Nancy Roseberry,
and a native of Berlin, Sangamon County. The marriage rites
were solemnized April 3, 1877. The household circle has been
added to by the birth of two sons - John R. and Earl D. Mrs.
Walker is a member in good standing of the Methodist Episcopal
Church. Mr. Walker is a Republican in politics. Both are
held in high esteem by their neighbors and acquaintances, and the
reputation of Mr. Walker extends into business and political
John H. Weddle.
To this gentleman and his associates in the farming community of
Willow Branch Township, Piatt County is much indebted for what they
have done to advance its material interests as skillful, progressive
agriculturalists. His farm, comprising four hundred acres of
highly improved land on section 1, is under fine cultivation and
amply provided with nest and commodious buildings and everything
needful to conduct farming operations after the most approved modern
methods. Here he and his family enjoy life in one of the most
attractive homes in this part of the county. A valuable
addition to this volume is the view presented on another page, of
the fine estate owned and operated by Mr. Weddle.
Mr. Weddle is a native of Pulaski County, Ky., where
his birth took place July 6, 1844. He is a where his birth
took place July 6, 1844. He is a son of the late Samuel and
Anna (Spencer) Weddle, and his paternal ancestor are said to be of
German origin while his maternal progenitors were English.
His maternal great-grandfather was a soldier in the Revolutionary
War. The Weddle family were early settlers of Kentucky.
Samuel Weddle, the father of our subject, migrated with his wife and
children to Illinois in 1845, and located in Morgan County.
The journey was made on a flatboat and steamer and when they landed
at their destination the father had but fifty cents left. They
resided in Morgan County for a time and also lived in Scott County.
In 1854 they moved to De Witt County, and two years later came to
Piatt County, settling in Willow Branch Township.
Here Mr. Weddle entered a quarter-section of land for
which he paid fifty cents an acre, and which now forms a part of the
estate of his son, our subject. It was then in a wild
condition just as the Indians had left it, and at one time Mr.
Waddle counted thirty-six deer in one part of it. He broke the
first furrow and made many improvements while he was engaged in
active farming. At his death, November 28, 1888, Willow Branch
Township lost one of its most worthy pioneers and best citizens.
His widow survived him and is now past three-score and ten years.
Of their marriage thirteen children were born, of whom the following
survive: Elizabeth, wife of F. M. Shull of Scott Count; John
H.; Mar, wife of William Talbert of California; Daniel, a resident
of Piatt County; Martha, wife of William Wilson of Missouri; Emma,
wife William Marsh of Macon County, and Melissa, wife of William
Marsh of Macon County, and Melissa, wife of Benjamin F. Stuart, of
John H. Weddle was but a boy when he came to this
county with his parents, and here he was reared to man's estate on
the farm of which he is now a proprietor. He received his
education in the primitive schools of his youth, and the information
thus gained he has since supplemented by extensive reading and
practical experience, so that he is today a well-8informed man.
He was but eighteen years of age when he offered his services to
help fight his country's battles, enlisting July 26, 1862, in
Company D, Seventy-third Illinois Infantry, which became a part of
the Army of the Cumberland. He fought bravely in the battle of
Chickamauga, did good service at Mission Ridge, Resaca and
Adairsville and again faced the rebels at Lost Mountain, Kenesaw
Mountain, and Peach Tree Creek. During the last engagement Mr.
Weddle was kneeling behind a stump, loading a gun, and as he putting
the cap on the gun, a ball from the enemy graze his right shoulder,
struck and went nearly through his knapsack, cutting every button
off his shirt, which was rolled up inside of it, and tore twelve
holes in his blanket. Mr. Weddle, however, escaped uninjured,
although the deadly fire of the enemy struck down men on every side.
He was in the famous engagement at Atlanta, took part in the battles
of Lovejoy and Spring Hill, and was with his regiment at Franklin
and Nashville, which were two of the most hotly contested
engagements of the war. He was with Thomas when Hood was
annihilated and his experiences of life in the army were many and
varied. He was honorably discharged June 12, 1865, and then
returned to his old home in Piatt County, to begin anew the work
that he had dropped when he enlisted in the service of the United
Our subject has met with conspicuous success in his
agricultural operations, and is classed among the leading farmers
and stock-growers of Piatt County. His estate comprises four
hundred acres of as fine farming land as can be found for miles in
any direction; the improvements are all first class, including a
handsome and well-appointed brick residence, one of the finest in
the county. To the lady who presides so graciously over his
home and cordially unites with him in extending its pleasant
hospitalities to their numerous friends, he was married September
23, 1873. Mrs. Weddle was formerly Amanda Cain, and is a
native of Adams County, Ill., born July 19, 1854, to Abel and
Octavia Cain, natives respectively of Ohio and Illinois. Her
parents had a number of children, of whom these are the survivors:
Mrs. Weddle; Warren, a resident of Decatur, and Albert, who lives in
Bement. The father now resides in Adams County, and is over
sixty years of age. Mr. and Mrs. Weddle have seven living
children - Mr. and Mrs. Weddle have seven living children - Minnie
E., Jesse O., Marion A., Chester A., Cyrus W., Bertha A., and Philip
Mr. Weddle is one of the representative citizens of his
county, and has used his influence to extend the interests of the
community; we always find him contributing liberally to all projects
that will in any way enhance the general welfare of this section.
He has interested himself in educational matters, and has served as
School Director. His political sentiments are in accord with
the principles promulgated by the Republican party, and he gives his
support to the candidates pledged to work in behalf of the
principles of that party. (The Weddle
Werner, who owns
and occupies a well-developed farm in Piatt County, is one of the
enterprising and progressive agriculturists to whom Cerro Gordo
Township is indebted for its prosperity and high development.
His land is located on section 29, and consists of eighty acres
which have been supplied with the usual improvements. Its
condition results from the industry and thrift of Mr. Werner, who
broke the first furrow on the place and has made it what it is
The birth of Mr. Werner took place August 16, 1838, in
Cumberland County, Pa. His parents, James and Mary (Taughenbaugh)
Werner, who were also Pennsylvanians, removed to Preble County,
Ohio, about 1848, and in 1859 came to this State. They first
located in Macon County but shortly after the close of the Civil War
they came to Piatt County, settling in Cerro Gordo Township, where
the wife and mother died April 14, 1888. The family was one of
the first to settle in their neighborhood and the father broke the
first ground on the southeast quarter of section 29. He
remained there until 1889 then removed to Decatur, where he is now
living, enjoying the comforts due to his meritorious life. He
is now nearly four scour years of age. He belongs to the
Prohibitionist party and is a member of the Church of God. Of
the six children born to himself and wife two besides our subject
are living, both making their homes in Decatur. Their names
are John T. and Alfred M.
The early education of James Werner was obtained in the
public schools of the Keystone and Buckeye States, and when but a
boy he began working at the trade of a blacksmith, which was that
followed by his father. The greater part of his life, however,
has been given to the pursuit of agriculture. After a few
years of bachelorhood he won for his wife Miss Margaret E. Osborn,
daughter of James A. and Martha E. (Brockman) Osborn, who was born
in Jersey County, this State, July 26, 1849. Her mother who is
now deceased, was born in Kentucky, and her father in Virginia.
Both came to this State in childhood. The father is now living
in Kansas. The family of Mr. and Mrs. Osborn was a large one
and eight sons and daughters still survive. They are Mrs.
Werner; Ann, wife of James Reed, living in Lincoln, Neb.; Mary, wife
of Baxter Thomas, of LaFayette, Ind.; John J., whose home is in
Piatt County, Kan.; Henry L., and Edward, living in Emporia, Kan.;
William and Walter, also living in the Garden State. Mr. and
Mrs. Werner began their wedded life December 25, 1866. They
have two children - Mary E., born September 30, 1869, and Chauncy
O., July 14, 1879.
In 1872 Mr. Werner made a permanent settlement on his
present farm in acquiring and improving which he has been ably
assisted by his faithful wife. Her good taste and excellent
judgment are only excelled by her prudent control of affairs placed
in her hands and she makes of her abiding-place a true home.
Mr. and Mrs. Werner are justly pleased with the
improvement that has been made in the locality since they took up
their abode where they are now living, and are grateful for the
privilege of aiding in bringing about the result. Both are
active members of society, well known and highly respected.
Mr. Werners aims to keep himself well-informed, not only regarding
matters connected with his life work, but on all topics of general
interest. He exercises the right of suffrage as a Republican.
White. When after years of long
and earnest labor in some honorable field of business, a man puts
aside all cares to spend his remaining days in the quiet enjoyment
of the fruits of his former toil, it is certainly a well deserved
reward of industry.
"How blest is he, who crowns in the shades like these,
A youth of labor with the age of ease,"
wrote the poet, and the world everywhere recognizes the justice of
the season of rest following the active period of business life.
Mr. White is now living retired at his pleasant home in Monticello,
and his history shows the accomplishment of well directed labor.
His residence in Piatt county covers a period of almost forty years,
during which he was long connected with agricultural interests, but
while promoting his individual success he has also labored for the
general welfare and has advocated many measures which have led to
the substantial improvement and material upbuilding of this section
of the state.
A native of Ohio, John M. White was born in Franklin
county, on the 27th of January in 1817, and comes of English
ancestry, being a direct descendant of the house of Tudor, long the
reigning house of England. In the paternal line he is probably
of Irish lineage, as it is thought that his grandfather, Samuel S.
White, was born on the Emerald Isle. For many years, however,
he resided in Virginia, where he engaged in teaching school but
early in the Eighth century he removed to Ohio, establishing his
home near the Scioto Big Run, four miles southwest of the present
city of Columbus. Again he resumed his educational work
becoming one of the first instructors in the schools of Franklin
county, Ohio. He was also interested in agricultural pursuits,
and securing a large tract of wild land he transformed it into a
fine farm on which he made his home until his death, which was the
result of an accident caused by a runaway horse. He was then
ninety-six years of age. He had served as justice of the peace
in the county and was a man of considerable prominence, leaving the
impress of his individuality upon the early development and
permanent improvement of that part of the state. His wife bore
the maiden name of Jane Stuart, and was of Scotch lineage. She
died at the home of Mrs. John M. White, Sr., about 1836. His
father was an own cousin of Mary, Queen of Scots, and thus comes our
subject's connection with the house of Tudor. One branch of
the Stuart family was established in Virginia, where they conducted
hotels, and when the Revolutionary war broke out the
great-grandfather, who would not take up arms against the mother
country, returned to England, there enlisted in the British service
and fought against the United States. His property in Virginia
was confiscated, and when the war ended he was given a tract of land
in Halifax to recompense him for what he had lost in the United
States. He wrote of this to his family, who were prepared to
join him in Nova Scotia, but no news was ever received from him
afterward, and it is supposed that he was lost on the water.
Years afterward one of his granddaughters met a lawyer from Halifax,
who told her that the property included in the grant to her
grandfather had become very valuable and was held in the name of the
Stuart heirs, whom it was thought would some day come and claim
John M. White, Sr., the father of our subject, was a
native of Hardy county, West Virginia, and when a young man
accompanied his parents on their removal to Ohio. When the war
of 1812 was in progress he drove a six horse team to Fort Franklin,
a military post now included within the city of Columbus, and there
his horses were pressed into service and he decided to go with them,
thus serving in the war of 1812. He married Mrs. Rachel
Moorehead, nee McDowell, and settled on the Moorehead farm, on the
Scioto river, two miles from Columbus, where he spent his remaining
days. He did not live to an advanced age, however, but passed
away November 17 1833. By her first marriage his wife had
three children: Sarah, Jane and Lincoln, all deceased.
Unto her marriage to Mr. White there were also three children born:
Samuel S., deceased; John M., of this review; and Marilla, who
became the wife of John N. Cherry and died in Franklin county, Ohio.
Amid the wild scenes of pioneer life in Ohio John M.
White, of this sketch, was reared. All around lay the
uncultivated land, and the forests stood in their primeval strength.
Frontier conditions existed and the family had to endure many
hardships and trials incident to pioneer life. Mr. White was
educated after the primitive manner of the times in a log
schoolhouse, conning his lessons while sitting on a slab bench.
Light was admitted into the room through greased paper, covering an
aperture made by removing a log, and the building was heated by a
fireplace, capable of containing an immense back log. The
methods of instructions were almost as primitive as the little
"temple of learning," and thus Mr. White had to depend upon reading,
experience and observation in later life to broaden his knowledge
and supplement the instruction which he gained in the school room.
The Wyandotte Indians were frequent visitors at the White home, and
deer and other wild game abounded in the forests and Mr. White has
more than once brought home venison and other wild meat for the
family larder. When his father died he continued to operate
the home farm for his mother, and after her death the property was
divided, he receiving one hundred and fourteen acres of the land, on
which tract stood the home buildings. Mr. White devoted his
energies with success, becoming the owner of a valuable property.
He continued his residence in Ohio until 1864, when he came to
Illinois, and in the fall of that year settled in Piatt county.
Here he purchased two hundred and eighty acres in Sangamon township,
and subsequently added to this tract until he had five hundred and
eighty-four acres of valuable land, including the Major Bowman farm
of two hundred and forty acres, which he continued to cultivate
until 1886. In the intervening years his carefully conducted
business affairs had brought to him a handsome competence, and with
this he retired to private life, establishing his home in
Monticello, where he has since lived in the enjoyment of the fruits
of his former toil.
In 1843 was performed the wedding ceremony which united
the destinies of Mr. White and Miss Jane Huffman, who was born near
Columbus, Ohio, a daughter of Jacob and Rebecca Huffman, but she
passed away in 1845, leaving two children; Ophelia J., now the wife
of Thomas Moffitt; and Frank, a well-known business man of this
county. For his second wife Mr. White chose Rebecca H.
Williams, their marriage taking place January 25, 1849. She
was a great-granddaughter of Vincent Isaac Williams, who lived near
what is now Williamsport, West Virginia. He met a very tragic
death. On one occasion while his family were in the fort at
Moorefield, West Virginia, he and a colored man went over to his
farm to look after his stock. The Indians were then on the
warpath and seven of them attacked Mr. Williams, who rushed to his
log cabin and succeeded in killing five of the savages. This
so enraged the remaining two that they picked out the mortar from
the rear of the cabin while Mr. Williams' attention was directed in
front, one of them shot and killed him.
The parents of Mrs. White were Isaac V. and Mary D.
(Hendricks) Williams, both of whom were natives of Virginia, and the
latter was reared to the age of fourteen years at Harper's Ferry.
She was a niece of General Darke, in whose honor Darke county, Ohio,
was named. At an early day her parents removed to Ohio and
located on the Scioto River, fifteen miles south of Columbus and
four miles south of Chillicothe. The lives of the early
settlers were constantly menaced by the treachery of the red men and
Mrs. Williams, afraid to leave her baby in the cabin, would carry it
to the spring when she went for a pail of water. Hardships and
difficulties of all kinds incident to pioneer life were experience
by the family, and while the men of the household worked in the
fields the wife and mother spun and wove the material which was used
in fashioning the garments of the early settlers. The nearest
market town was Chillicothe, thirty-five miles distant, and the way
led through the forests, there being no road save the old Indian
trail. At his death the father left an estate of eleven
hundred acres of which his widow took charge and settled. In
the family were nine children: Joseph, who married a lady of New
York city; Isaac, who married and removed to Illinois in 1883;
and Eliza, who are now deceased; James, who died in Indiana;
Vincent, who cared for his mother until her death at the age of
seventy-seven years; Sarah, who married Benjamin Rennock, but is now
deceased; Edwin, who died in childhood; and Rebecca H., wife of our
subject, and the only one now living.
The last named was the youngest member of the
household. She was born in Pickaway county, Ohio, about four
miles from Bloomfield, and by her marriage she has become the mother
of five children: Benjamin R.; Vincent I.; Sarah W., the wife of
Horace Caleff; John M., and Mary Darke, the wife of E. I. Williams,
living in Lafayette. Mrs. White is a valued and exemplary
member of the Methodist Episcopal church, and to her family has ever
been a devoted wife and mother. Like her husband, she is a
representative of old and distinguished pioneer families, and her
ancestral history is one of close and honorable connection with the
development of Virginia as well as Ohio.
For almost forty years Mr. White has been a resident of
Piatt county, and has therefore witnessed much of its development.
Much of the land was wild and unimproved when he came to this
section of the state, and he has borne his full share in the work of
transforming it into what is today - one of the rich agricultural
districts of this great state, whose fine farms are unsurpassed
throughout the length and breadth of this fair land.
Throughout his entire career his life has been honorable and
upright, characterized by fidelity to duty in all relations and
manifesting energy and enterprise in his business career. His
worth is widely acknowledged, and he has the confidence and good
will of young and old, rich and poor. He justly deserves the
rest which he is now enjoying, and now history of Piatt county would
be complete without mention of John M. White.
Williams. In the lives of man, particularly if they
be successful in any line, much interest is felt by others, and all
are anxious to know by what means they arrived at their financial
status, professional repute or established character. Allen
Williams, a well-known resident of Piatt County, has become a
large landowner and prosperous citizen by means of sturdy
perseverance, faithful service when employed by others, and prudent
use of the means which he gained from year to year. He is the
owner of more than six hundred acres of land, two hundred and forty
being included in his home farm on section 24, Willow Branch
Township. Here he has a fine large brick residence, put up in
1881-82, and such other buildings as he has found to be necessary or
convenient, all substantial and well designed for their respective
purposes. When Mr. Williams came to this county in 1865
his capital consisted of $150 and a horse worth $80. From this
small beginning has grown his splendid estate and the means which
enable him to enjoy every comfort and aid in every good work which
secures his sympathy.
The parents of our subject were Theophilus and
Margaret (Ross) Williams, who were born respectively in
Maryland and Ohio. His father was quite young when he first
made his home in Pickaway County, Ohio, and there he grew to
maturity and married. He continued to reside there until about
1862, when he removed to Johnson County, Kan. In that county
he and his good wife entered into rest, the one in 1867 and the
other a few years later. They were the parents of a large
family, of whom the following survive; Andrew J., Allen,
Thomas B., Elizabeth (Mrs. Franklin Riley), Mary (Mrs. Joseph
Williams), Minerva (Mrs. Perry Phillips), Lewis, Ross, Benjamin F.
and Marcus L.
The natal day of Allen Williams was June 9,
1838, and his birthplace the parental farm in Pickaway County, Ohio.
He grew to maturity amid scenes of somewhat primitive nature and
received a limited education in the early schools of his native
county. The memories of his boyhood include the old-fashioned
log schoolhouse, with a rough board laid on wooden pins beside the
wall, where but one pupil at a time could write, and the pen was
made from a goose-quill by the teacher, needing frequent repointing
after the crude efforts of the learners. The schools were kept
up by subscription until Mr. Williams was twelve years old,
when the public school system was introduced in that locality.
Better accommodations were supplied as the country progressed in
development and the people were able to give time and means to the
cause they loved.
Mr. Williams was reared to agricultural pursuits
and has from his youth been engaged in farming and stock-raising.
He came to Piatt County, Ill., in 1865, and for some two years was
employed by the job on farms here. He then married and set up
his home, aided in his efforts to accumulate property and surround
himself with comforts, by a faithful and capable wife. This
lady bore the maiden name of Elizabeth Applegate, and their wedding
took place Feb. 25, 1868. A family of six children blessed the
happy union, their names being Laura, Alice, Luther, Arthur,
Oscar and Blanche. The wife and mother was called
hence Feb. 8. 1882. Three years later, Feb. 10, 1885, Mr.
Williams was again married, his bride being Mrs. Martha
Huffman, widow of the late Frank Huffman, of Monticello.
That Mr. Williams has been pre-eminently
successful in a worldly sense his splendid estate attests. As
a citizen he is public-spirited, anxious to see the country
advancing rapidly in moral, educational and material respects.
He has served as Justice of the Peace in Willow Branch Township four
years, and has decided wisely the questions referred to him.
In politics he is a Democrat, true to his principles and ready to
give a reason for his faith. He is of a social nature,
possessing the attributes that render a man popular in society, and
standing well among his fellow-citizens. He is strictly
temperate, having never even tasted intoxicating liquor, and in this
respect has set a most worthy example to the youth of this
Elsewhere in this volume the reader will notice a
lithographic portrait of Mr. Williams.
was a brave volunteer who did valuable service as a gallant soldier
during the late war, and has since done good work in Piatt County as
an industrious farmer who is busily carrying on his agricultural
operations on section 16, Willow Branch Township. Our subject
is of pioneer antecedents and is a native of Vermillion County,
Ind., his birth occurring there Sept. 20, 1839. His parents
were Clarkson C. and Nancy (Ater) Williams, natives of Ohio.
They had a large family of children of whom the following survive:
Mrs. Eliza Cline; Clarkson, Joseph, Ralston and Mary M.
wife of Monroe Peck. In the fall of 1849 and the
parents settled on a farm now owned by our subject in Willow Branch
Township. The family had previously come to Moultrie County
from their old home in Indiana where they had lived for a short time
before coming here. The father of our subject settled on the
homestead on section 16, when it was in the perfectly wild condition
and the surrounding neighborhood was a very sparsely settled; he
died in 1852 only a few years after he came here. His widow
survived him until Aug., 1886, when she too passed away. He
was a sound Democrat in politics and as a pioneer of the township
his death was a loss to its interests. In connection with
farming he carried on the trade of a blacksmith, and was a sort of a
Clarkson Williams was reared to man's estate mid
the pioneer scenes of Piatt County. He obtained a good
practical knowledge of farming in his youth and adopted that calling
for his life work. He received his education in the early
pioneer schools of the county. After the death of his father
the management of the home farm and the care of the family devolved
largely upon our subject, and well did he perform his duty. He
was in the flush of early manhood when the great civil strife broke
out between the North and the South, and as soon as he could arrange
it, he laid aside his work to take part in the conflict, enlisting
in Aug., 1862, in Company K, One Hundred and Seventh Illinois
Infantry, which became a part of Sherman's army and also served for
a time under Gen. Thomas. Mr. Williams took part in the
battle of Knoxville, in the siege of Atlanta, fought the enemy at
Franklin and Nashville, and in numerous other engagements. His
record as a brave, efficient and faithful soldier reflected credit
on his regiment. After a long term of service, in which he
endured the hardships and trials of a soldier's life with fortitude,
he was honorably discharged and returned to Camp Butler, Ill., where
he was mustered out of the service.
Upon leaving the army Mr. Williams came to Piatt
County and has lived here ever since. Here his marriage with
Miss Sarah F. McCurdy, a native of Brown County, Ill., took
place Feb. 6, 1868. Their married life has been as felicitious
as usually falls to the lot of mortals and has been blessed to them
by seven children, of whom these five are living: Jane,
Eliza, Edward, Elizabeth and Otis C. Those deceased
are Minnie and Thomas.
Mr. Williams owns one hundred and twenty acres of
land on section 16, Willow Branch Township, which forms a part of
his father's old homestead, and here he is busily and profitably
prosecuting his calling. His fields are well-tilled and yield
him good harvests, and his farm is supplied with all the necessary
buildings and improvements. He conducts his affairs in a
business-like manner, so that he enjoys the confidence of all with
whom he deals, and he is well thought of in his community. His
political views are expressed in the platform of the Democratic
(Source: Portrait & Biographical Album of DeWitt & Piatt
Counties, Illinois - Chicago: Chapman Bros., 1891 - Copyrighted 1885)
who was one of the brave defenders of the Union in the late Civil
War, is carrying on farming and stockraising on section 16, Willow
Branch Township, and holds an honorable place among the men of his
class in Piatt County. He is a native of Vermilion County,
Ind., and was born Nov. 22, 1841, to Clarkson C. and Nancy (Ater)
Williams, natives of Ohio. His parents had several children, of whom
the following survive: Mrs. Eliza Cline, Clarkson, Joseph,
Ralston; and Margaret, wife of Monroe Peck.
When our subject was quite young his
parents came to Illinois, and after a short residence in Moultrie
County came to Piatt County, and cast in their lot with the early
settlers of Willow Branch Township. Here the father carried on
farming in connection with blacksmithing, and was well known in this
section of th country, where he resided until his death.
Joseph Williams, the subject of this
biographical review, passed his early life amid pioneer scenes and
he has done much pioneer work. He has always devoted himself
to farming, and has done very well, as he has acquired a farm of one
hundred and twenty acres of excellent land, that compares very
favorably with others in its vicinity in point of cultivation and
improvement. Here he and his family have a happy home and
quietly enjoy the comforts of life that they have gathered around
Our subject had not attained his majority when he
enlisted in August, 1862, to help preserve the Union from
destruction in the great civil contest that was then raging.
His name was enrolled as a member of Company K, One Hundred and
Seventeenth Illinois Infantry, which became a part of Sherman's army
and served as such the most of the time during the war, being
attached to the Twenty-third Army Corps. Our subject and his
comrades first met the enemy in East Tennessee, and then assisted
Sherman in his celebrated Georgia campaign, taking part in many
battles and skirmishes. He was present at the siege of Atlanta
and also at the siege of Knoxville. He fought gallantly in the
great battle at Franklin, which by some is regarded as the most
hotly contested engagement during the Rebellion. Our subject
also faced the enemy at Kenesaw Mountain and at Altoona Mountain,
and in numerous other engagements. In the battle of Franklin
he was wounded in the right wrist and otherwise suffered much from
the privations and hardships incidental to the life of a soldier.
He was finally discharged July 11, 1865.
After his hard experience of life on Southern
battlefields our subject returned to Piatt County, and resumed the
work which he had dropped to take up arms for his country. His
marriage with Miss Mary Williams occurred Sep. 1, 1866, and
she is an invaluable helpmate to him. She is an excellent
housekeeper and understands well how to make her household
comfortable. To her and our subject have been born seven
children, named as follows: Eva, Miama, Joseph Jr., Rufus,
Sylvia, Mary S. and Wilsie. Mr. Williams is justly
regarded as a man of unimpeachable character, and his
fellow-citizens have much respect for him. He and his family
are kindly, hospitable people, and are much esteemed members of
(Source: Portrait & Biographical Album of DeWitt & Piatt
Counties, Illinois - Chicago: Chapman Bros., 1891 - Copyrighted 1885)
has displayed much enterprise and ability in carrying on his farming
operations, and has won for himself a high place among the men of
his class, not only in Goose Creek Township, where he resides but in
Piatt County at large. He was born in Washington County, Md.,
Jul. 16, 1833. His father, John Wilson, was probably a native
of that State, and he died while yet in life's prime in the year
1836. The mother of our subject whose maiden name was Sarah
Hunt, and who was a native of Maryland was thus left a widow with
two little children, both of whom are still living. She then
removed to Greene County, Ohio. Her death occurred in 1872 at
a venerable age.
Early deprived of a father's care, our subject lived
with Samuel Bowen from the time he was six years old until the time
he was sixteen and in the meantime was well trained in farming.
His school privileges were limited, as he was obliged to work to
support himself. When he began to work he received only $9 a
month and he was thus employed several years. When he was
twenty-three years of age he began farming on his own account.
He had previously come to Illinois in 1853 and was employed by
others in Tazewell County for three years. He subsequently
rented land for ten years, and in 1863 invested some of his money in
land of his own. He lived in Normal some years and then
removed to Atlanta, where he remained but a few months however,
going from there to Beson. In January, 1877, he came to Piatt
County, and settled in Goose Creek Township, where he bought land.
He lived on that place for five years and then rented it, as he had
decided to take up his residence at Farmer City that his children
might have better school advantages. He lived there one year
and we next hear of him at Deland, whither he went in 1882. He
was there five years and since then has made his home on his farm.
He has here in Goose Creek Township three hundred and three acres of
land of exceptional fertility and productiveness. Its
improvements are first class, and include a commodious frame house,
which he erected in 1888.
Mr. Wilson was one of three men to establish and
operate a large tile factory at Deland, with which he was connected
a year and a half. He began life without any means, and it was
only by the force of indomitable will and by the exercise of
untiring industry, seconded by clear judgment and sagacious
foresight that he has placed himself among the moneyed men of his
township. He is a member in high standing of the Christian
Church, as is his good wife also. Politically he is a
The marriage of Mr. Wilson and Miss Lucinda Judy was
duly celebrated in 1856, and has brought to them the following six
children: Rosa E., Sarah A., Amanda J., (deceased), Mary B.,
Jacob G. and Mattie M. (deceased). These children have been
given excellent educational advantages and have been carefully
Mrs. Wilson is a native of Illinois and was born in
Tazewell County in 1838. She is a daughter of Jacob and Mary
(Music) Judy. Her father was born in Ohio in 1804. Her
mother was born in Kentucky in 1812, and died in 1884. Mr.
Music was the first man to settle on Sugar Creek in Logan County.
Mr. Judy came to Illinois in 1827. He entered land in Tazewell
County and lived there until 1865. Since that time he has made
his home at Atlanta. He was married after coming to this
State, his wife being the daughter of a pioneer family of Logan
County, who settled there in 1819. He is a devoted member of
the Christian Church, as was also his wife.
(Source: Portrait & Biographical Album of DeWitt & Piatt
Counties, Illinois - Chicago: Chapman Bros., 1891 - Copyrighted 1885)
Wilson. For many years Mr. Wilson was one of
the active and progressive farmers of Piatt county, as well as one
of its most reliable and honored citizens, and now in his declining
years he is enjoying a well-earned rest, free from the cares and
responsibilities of business life. He makes his home in Deland
and is widely and favorably known throughout the county where he has
resided for over a quarter of a century.
Mr. Wilson was born in Maryland, July 16, 1833, a son
of John and Sarah (Hunt) Wilson, who were also natives of that
state, where the father spent his entire life, his occupation being
that of farming. He died in 1834, and his wife, who was born
in 1802, departed this life in Ohio in 1874. To them were born
two children: Joseph of this review, and his sister, Sophia.
When four years old Joseph Wilson went to Ohio with his
mother, his father having died during his infancy, and at the age of
seven he commenced earning his own livelihood. For about two
or three months during the winter he was allowed to attend school,
conducted in an old log building, but his educational privileges
were meager, the remainder of this time being devoted to farm work
by the month at eight dollars per month, and was employed in that
way until coming to Illinois in 1853. Settling in Tazewell
county, he continued in the employ of others until his marriage, and
then rented a farm in that county. He afterward operated his
father-in-law's place for eight years, and then purchased one
hundred and nine acre in the same county, moving his home there for
three years. On selling his farm he removed to Normal,
Illinois, where he spent two years, and the following five years
were passed at Atlanta, Logan county, this state, where he purchased
a farm of one hundred and sixty acres. In 1876 he came to
Piatt county and bought three hundred acres near DeLand, which he
operated until Jan. 20, 1901, when he retired from active business
and removed to DeLand, renting his farm. With the hope of
benefiting his heath, which was much impaired, he recently spent
four months at Eureka Springs, Arkansas, and on his return purchased
the Dresbach property, which he expects soon to occupy. He
bought a house and lot here in 1898 and another in 1902, both of
which he now rents.
On the 16th of October, 1856, Mr. Wilson, was untied in
marriage to Miss Lucinda Judy, a daughter of Jacob and Mary Ann (Musick)
Judy. Her mother was born on Nov. 20, 1812, and died in 1884,
but her father, who was born in Green county, Ohio, Jan. 9, 1804, is
still living, and, although ninety-nine years of age, still enjoys
good health, though his eyesight has failed him. In early life
he engaged in farming in his native state, but as early as 1823 he
came to Illinois and settled in Tazewell county, where he followed
the same pursuit. He is now a resident of Logan county, this
state. In 1886 he was again married, his second union being
with Mary Ann Hawes. The children by his first marriage were
Nancy Jane, the widow of Ellis Roberts, of Champaign county,
Illinois; Robert, who died on Mar. 27, 1902; Eliza, the widow of
Nimrod Brighton, of Hopedale, Tazewell county, who died at Eureka
Springs, Arkansas, about eight years ago; Annie, wife of Allen
Haneline, of Armington, Illinois; Mary Belle, who died April 28,
1897; Lucinda, wife of our subject; and Sarah, Hattie and John, who
all three died in infancy.
The children born to Mr. and Mrs. Wilson were as
follows: Rose Ellen, now the wife of William Gelsthorpe, a
former of Logan county, Illinois; Sarah Ann, wife of D. P. Swisher,
a farmer of Piatt county; Amanda, who died Feb. 29, 1888; May Bell,
wife of J. L. Borton, who is engaged in farming near DeLand; Jacob
G., a farmer of this county; and Mattie May, who died Oct. 9, 1887.
The parents are both earnest and consistent members of the Christian
church, and are held in the highest respect by all who know them.
Politically, Mr. Wilson is identified with the Republican party, but
he has never cared for the honors or emoluments of public office,
preferring to devote his entire time and attention to his business
interests. He deserves great credit for what he has achieved
in life, as he began making his own way in the world at the age of
seven years and has since been dependent upon his own resources.
He is a man of good business ability, sound judgment and strict
integrity, and to these characteristics is due his success.
(Past & Present of Piatt County, Illinois - together with
biographical sketches of many prominent and influential citizens) -
Charles McIntosh, Associate editor - Chicago - The S. J. Clarke
Publishing Co., 1903)
Woolington is a worthy
representative of the pioneers of Piatt County. He came here
in early days and has not only been a witness of almost the entire
growth of this section of the State but he has contributed his
quota to its upbuilding. He resides on section 1, Monticello
Township, on a farm that has been developed from the wilderness by
his own hands. Mr. Woolington is a native of Pickaway County,
Ohio, and was there born December 11, 1818, in the humble pioneer
home of his parents, Thomas and Nitha (Stokes) Woolington, natives
of Maryland, and of English origin. His father was a gallant
soldier in the War of 1812.
Our subject was bred to the life of a farmer on his
father's farm in his native county. He received but limited
educational advantages, as the early schools of Ohio were of a
primitive sort. He was married in Ohio, October 8, 1835, to
Isabel Kile, a native of Pickaway County, and a daughter of William
Kile. Of this marriage were born the following children, of
whom two are living: Henry, a resident of Monticello, and
Sarah, wife of James P. Davis of the same place. Those
deceased are Mary, Edward, and a child who died in infancy.
The mother of these children died in 1848.
In the fall of 1838 our subject started out with his
little family, in company with Joseph Kile, his brother-in-law and
his family, to make the journey through the wild intervening country
from Ohio to Shelby County, Ill. The little company had but
one wagon and four horses, and our subject had to walk the entire
distance of four hundred miles and at night slept under the wagon
for shelter. He remained in Shelby County, four years and
farmed there as a renter. He then came to Piatt County, where
he has since lived. He settled upon his present farm in 1854.
It was partly wild land and he has brought into its present fine
condition by sheer hard work. He and his wife had many
hardships and privations to endure, as did the other pioneers in
this then newly settled region, but they bore all uncomplainingly
and toiled with a steadfast will until they had accomplished their
purpose and built up a comfortable home in which they are passing
their declining years in peace and plenty, free from the cares that
beset their early days.
Mr. Woolington has one hundred and thirty-one acres of
land which is mostly under cultivation and is subject to many
excellent improvements, that make it one of the most desirable
estates in its vicinity. His life record is that of a man who
has always striven to do his duty and has won a high reputation for
honesty and truthfulness. He and his good wife are most
sincere Christians, and are valued members of the Methodist
Episcopal Church. For more than half a century they have
walked life's road together and their domestic life has furnished an
example of true wedded bliss. Mr. Woolington has served as
School Director and has done all in his power not only to promote
the cause of education but to advance other interests in his adopted
township. In his politics he is one of the strongest and
truest members of the Republican party. Mr. Woolington was
again married August 13, 1849, to Mrs. Susannah Devore, nee Barnes;
this lady is a native of Ohio and came to this State in 1833 when
sixteen years old. Mrs. Woolington has four children by her
first marriage two of whom are living: Sarah M. Bondurant and
William C. DeVore.
** Buried in Chandler Cemetery